Mother’s Union to lead anti-rape and gender violence campaign
The Church of Uganda has launched a “Thursdays in black” campaign to highlight the problem of gender violence in the East African nation.
“Thursdays in black” was organized by the World Council of Churches in the 1980s as a protest against rape and violence, and is a “united global expression of the desire for safe communities where we can all walk safely without fear of being raped, shot at, beaten up, verbally abused and discriminated against due to one’s gender or sexual orientation,” said Dr Fulata Mbano-Moyo, WCC programme executive for Women in Church and Society.
The campaign draws upon the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a group of women whose adult children “disappeared” in the political violence of military rule in Argentina in the 1970s and 1980s. The madres de la Plaza de Mayo would walk around the Plazo de Mayo in Buenos Aires every Thursday in protests to the killings.
The campaign was launched last month at the Lweza Training Centre at the close of the Church of Uganda’s Bishops and Wives retreat. The Mother’s Union has been tasked with promoting the program in churches across Uganda. The Anglican Church in Southern Africa has been involved with the campaign in South Africa through its ties to the Diakonia Council of Churches and HIV/AIDs support groups.
Mother’s Union president Dr. Ruth Ssenyonyi told reporters: “There is a lot of violence in the country and we have to support its end.”
Irene Anena, program officer for gender and social justice at the national church office explained: “From a theological perspective, we believe Christians were called to fight injustice. As a church we feel bound and encouraged by this vision of God to speak out for justice. We believe in a world of spiritual enrichment where everyone can live alongside one another in a peaceful and just manner.”
Archbishop Stanley Ntagali applauded the goals of the program, but urged the organizers to take care not to lose the campaign’s Christian focus. The WCC and other international NGOs often had hidden agendas that were linked to social justice programs. “These partners of ours might have a different agenda and while we are receiving their money, we have to be very careful not to push their agenda,” he said.